Login Register

Backbenchers rally to overturn hunting ban

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 14, 2013

Comments (7)

A group of backbench Tory MPs are drumming up support for a repeal of the hunting ban before the next election.

Devon MP Neil Parish is among a core of Conservatives who want the Hunting Act overturned, but are anxious to secure enough support before going to a Commons vote.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told the Western Morning News in December that the Government was still committed to giving MPs a free vote on tearing up the legislation.

But he ruled out bringing the issue to the House of Commons this year as pro-hunt MPs would not win.

Mr Paterson, a keen country sportsman, was four-square against Labour's ban when he was a backbench MP.

Mr Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton, told the WMN: "There are a number of us keen to see the Act repealed and I would support the Secretary of State. However, I don't think a vote is imminent.

"We are not certain of the numbers (for and against) and we won't move until we are more certain."

In an interview earlier this month, Mr Paterson said he is "absolutely clear" that there will be a free vote before May 2015.

The Coalition Agreement signed by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in May 2010 committed the newly-formed Government to holding a free vote on the hunting ban at some stage during the five-year Parliament.

But almost three years later, the issue has barely surfaced at Westminster. Mr Paterson said there is "more work to be done" to convince backbench MPs to vote for a repeal.

"We've got a pretty busy programme with a lot of other issues," he said. "But I'm absolutely clear it's the right thing to do to have a free vote at the appropriate moment."

The problem for the pro-hunt lobby is that while many Tories want the ban repealed, the party also has a smaller number of mainly urban-based backbenchers who insist it should remain in place.

With many – though not all – Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs opposed to repealing the 2005 legislation, the pro-hunt lobby faces an uphill struggle to win a free vote in the Commons.

Mr Paterson, who was handed the environment brief in last year's Cabinet reshuffle, said a group of backbench Tories have been tasked with drumming up support over the coming months.

"I think there's more work to be done," he said. "We need to win some more support. There are some MPs who are actively working on this."

The issue, which divides rural Westcountry communities, is tricky for David Cameron, who rode with his local hunt several times prior to the ban. Having already failed to push his proposed boundary changes through Parliament after the Lib Dems withdrew their support, he will not want to be seen to lose another vote.

Those championing a repeal say the Act is illiberal, illogical and confusing. Labour continues its opposition to the ban, arguing there is no public support for a return and that "there is no place for animal cruelty in a civilised society".

Read more from Exeter Express and Echo

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters


  • Kindanimal  |  February 18 2013, 3:34PM

    loftylady - I wonder if you've seen the latest claimant of an alleged fox attacks on Twitter laughing and joking and telling her followers her mother put her up to it. If that's not a confession to making false claims, I don't know what is. Personally I'm sick of these alleged so-called fox attacks. It's perfectly obvious to anyone with a minutia of intelligence to deduce that the campaign to vilify the fox only started since the Hunting Act was brought in. Even the Quisling Barrington was on Channel 4 went so far as to say all these attacks in suburbia happen because there is a hunting ban. And this is the animal welfare spokesman for the Countryside Alliance! These ridiculous people will stop at nothing, even lies, in order to repeal the hunting ban. In spite of there being almost no increase in the number of foxes over the years there have been urban foxes in our cities long before the Hunting Act was brought in. Additionally, not one single instance of the alleged fox attacks have ever been proved and all are reported on hearsay alone. Even when it was suggested a DNA test was done to prove one of the attacks was genuine, the claimant refused. Why? All this nonsense about fox attacks should be DNA tested and proved before they are splashed all over the national newspapers.

    |   4
  • loftylady  |  February 18 2013, 1:15PM

    Almost smell the Countryside Alliance (and the government) behind this post on twitter (I have edited it to prevent advertisisng it directly): '*Cash*Stories - Did a fox attack you or a member of you family? Get in touch and we could earn you £££ for sharing your story with a national newspaper'. Prepare for more UNWITNESSED. And FALSE accounts.

    |   4
  • Kindanimal  |  February 18 2013, 10:00AM

    There has already been a Free Vote on hunting after over 400 hours of debate in Parliament. This is the reason the Hunting Act 2004 was brought in. It is not only ludicrous to spend even more parliamentary time on this issue, but particularly so in view of the fact that the Tories haven't got enough support for this in parliament or in the country. What they are attempting to do is utterly undemocratic and one could almost say, corrupt. The Tories have already turned this into a political issue by employing the Countryside Allance's hunting lobby group Vote-OK to knock on doors for the Tory party at the last General Election. They were instructed not to mention hunting at that time - why? People should have been told who was on their doorsteps lobbying for a political party and been given the facts behind what they were lobbying for.

    |   9
  • bodkin1  |  February 15 2013, 6:24PM

    Not in a million years will hunting be allowed again.The tories should get on with getting the country out of recession instead of concentrating on their horrendous leisure pursuits.No amount of lies and trickery by the pro hunt tabloids will ever work.It does not belong in a civilised society.

    |   9
  • vulcan  |  February 15 2013, 8:25AM

    Dead right badger. The Right wing press are anxious to get as many townies on their side as possible.

    |   10
  • IamRight  |  February 15 2013, 4:21AM

    That's the truth, E Badger.

    |   6
  • E_Badger  |  February 15 2013, 2:48AM

    And here ladies and gentlemen is the real reason behind the latest media frenzy fox attack stories.

    |   13